Rock Rose Digital, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.


Rock Rose Digital blog

Here you’ll find my musings about all things social media, building a brand, female empowerment and everything in-between. Expect plenty of tips, myth-debunking, client case studies and personal insights into my very own business journey.

2019 Social media trends and what they mean for small businesses

Each new year brings with it new predictions of trends to steer our marketing efforts over the next few months. These lists are often written by the social media giants and digital marketing “gurus”, chatting about such huge advancements which often leave the humble small business owner completely baffled and intimidated by the concept of keeping up.

We’ve done our research on what’s expected to be big in 2019, translated it from super nerd to small nerd, and put it into the context of the kinds of small businesses we cherish working with. We hope you find it useful in devising your new year strategies!

1) Ephemeral Content

By this, we mean the short form content we all lovingly know as “Stories” - i.e. Instagram and Facebook Stories. If you’re new to it - it is vertical images and videos, which can be customised with text, emojis or various engagement boosting functions, visible for up to 15 seconds at a time, with a 24 hour shelf life before disappearing completely. Over 2018, we saw Instagram Stories usage grow by the largest amount over any other platform or medium, with Facebook Stories following hot on its heels keeping up with the same level of functionality.

The charm and beauty of Stories is it’s less polished nature. In fact, viewers prefer a more candid, “behind the scenes” style approach, without the narcissistic perfectionism of the main feeds. This is especially true when it comes to businesses, as it allows them to really connect with their audiences on a more personal level.

Stories are showing no sign of slowing down, so if you haven’t already branched into this world - hop on it quickly!

2) Video content

Yes, putting your face in front of a camera is terrifying, but after a few times it’s not as scary. Truth be told, it’s something we’ve only done a couple of times and are really struggling with the confidence to do regularly. But, we’re determined to make a go of it. Why? Because, like short form content, video is going to boom this year. Again, the ability to put a personality and face to a brand is a hugely beneficial marketing tool, really helping you leverage a loyal and engaged audience. Think Youtube, Facebook live or IGTV - Instagram’s own long form video platform. These can be great for showcasing new products, giving tutorials, webinars, hosting a debate, or live streaming from an event you’re hosting. Start small and take things from there

3) E-commerce

Last year, the “shopability” of content went off the charts with various bits of new functionality on Instagram. This year that is only going to increase as the functions improve to keep up with the growing popularity of Instagram Stories. Soon we’ll be able to shop items directly from an Instagram Stories post and from branded Stories adverts. If you’re an e-commerce brand, keeping up with these levels of functionality is key to make your product purchasing as quick and simple as possible

4) Community

The bubble is going to burst very soon for the prestige around crazy huge follower numbers and celebrity based influencer marketing. The key social media platforms are having a huge crack down on fake accounts and illegitimate growth hacking, which will soon flush out all of the follower and engagement bots. Find out more about influencer fraud in this from Social Chain >> HERE <<

The trend is going to shift to small influencers; aka micro and nano influencers. These are accounts with lower follower numbers, high genuine engagement and who epitomise the ideal client a brand is marketing to, reflecting their core values. The aim is to provide the consumer with a more targeted and authentic experience.

We’ll also see a rise in brand groups online; Facebook & LinkedIn groups, Facebook Messenger and even WhatsApp. The focus overall will be a more personalised customer journey, developing communities of loyal disciples and brand ambassadors, instead of huge flocks of largely disinterested (or dubiously acquired) followers.

5) Chat bots

We know, a) it sounds pretty technical b) you probably couldn’t think of anything worse than chatting to a bot, but hear us out.

2019 is going to be all about how to work smarter not harder, and so brands are shifting a lot of their entry level customer service interactions to be handled by chat bots. It fights the small fires painlessly, handles simple queries and concerns efficiently and ultimately saves time allowing focus to be given to other areas of your business. Bots give your customers opportunity to contact you 24/7 and get a timely response. Imagine being able to handle queries in your sleep!

If you get a high volume of messages on facebook, twitter or email with similar requests or questions, costing you a lot of your time and energy then a chat bot will definitely be worth investigating to help automate those repetitive responses.

6) AI

AI, or Artificial Intelligence sounds a lot more sci-fi than it actually is. It means technology performing tasks and understanding human commands. Again, it’s about automation and simplification of the bits we can to allow more time for other important tasks.

Integrated with certain tools you’re likely to already be using, not only will you save time but it can trawl more data than you would ever be inclined to, giving greater insight into your customers and your business growth. For example, linked to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, it can help with your finance predictions or automate stages of your sales process. Linked to Facebook Ads, it can open you up to an abundance of new users specifically targeted to your campaign - the possibilities are endless when you start looking into it.

A more accessible AI solution a lot of you might already be familiar with is the voice-search assistant, Alexa (other brands are available).

If you’re really intrigued, you can read more about AI and small businesses in this article from Forbes >> HERE <<

Technology and its capabilities will continue to move forward. Yes, it can be daunting and it’s difficult to know where to begin. But ostracising ourselves, especially where our businesses are concerned, will be hugely detrimental. Embrace it and see where it takes you.

If any of the above interests you, send us a message and let’s chat about how to make it a part of your 2019 strategies.

jen eastwood